Friday, December 12, 2014

How To Be An Author

So you want to write a book. Not simply write it, though. You want to get it published for all the world to read.

Here's how to do that.

1. Sit down in your desk chair and open your laptop.

2. Write.

3. Do this every day for several hours for several months or even a year or two.

4. Write "The End" when you finish the book.

5. Take back everything you just wrote and boil it down to a one-pager, a paragraph, and a one-liner.

6. Write a clever, witty, unique query letter relating your skills and the strengths of your book, but make it SHORT.

7. Spend hours searching for someone who wants your book (e.g. your genre/your subject) or you (self-starter, enthusiastic promoter, great writer).

8. Read in detail the requirements for sending the query letter and email or mail your clever, witty, unique one to the agent/publisher.

9. Repeat #'s 5-8 as many times as it takes to get an agent/publisher.

10. Self publish.

Not everything I just wrote is a lie or an exaggeration. Tinged with sarcasm, perhaps, but that's only because I am currently struggling with a multitude of projects, a dearth of promo budget, a touch of writer's block, and a sagging Amazon rank. For now, the joy has gone out of Mudville.

Sometimes I think John Steinbeck was correct when he wrote, "The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business." Mind you, my uncle made quite a lot of money on horses. But he had to have money in order to make it - he bought a horse, paid for its training and upkeep, and hired a jockey. Same with book selling, it seems. In order to sell a lot, you need to buy a lot of market space. 

There are definitely those who get lucky. I don't happen to be one of those. Yet. 

There it is...that little word...yet. The lure of the slot machine. The sound of winning. 

What would winning look like for me? A top Amazon rank. Huge sales for me and my publisher. Fan recognition. Invitations to read, sign and speak. And yet...

The true joy lies in #1 and 2 above. Sitting down. Writing. The flow of the letters and words and ideas straight from the sub-conscious through the fingers, onto the page. The thrill of a plot twist that seems to arrive from space. The companionship of characters you've grown to love. Spending time in a location that's idyllic in some way.

Maybe that's how to be an author. Allow the writing to be front and center. Don't forget about the promotional aspects, but put them in perspective. You can always self publish. 

Top Amazon ranks and huge sales might not follow, but who said fan recognition and invitations to read, sign or speak had to be quantified? Even a dozen fans and a couple of book club appearances can make you feel like a somebody. Or like an author.

Catherine Astolfo has five published novels from Imajin books ( and several short stories published in anthologies. Check them out here:

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